(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Richie Solis says the hands-on learning experience he receives at Texas State Technical College will lead him to a rewarding career.
“What I am doing in class right now is something I will be able to put into practice in the real world,” said Solis, a TSTC Metallica Scholar who is studying Automotive Technology. “I like the way we are able to work with our hands and make the repairs we are supposed to make.”
Being named one of the first TSTC students to receive a scholarship sponsored by the Metallica Scholars Initiative (MSI) was exciting news for Solis.
“I am now able to get the extra tools and equipment I will need to be successful in school and in my career,” he said. “It is great that the band (Metallica) is helping students prepare for a career.”
MSI was launched in 2019 by All Within My Hands in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges. MSI now directly supports 42 community colleges across 33 states. By the end of this year, it will have helped more than 6,000 students pursuing careers in the trades.
Solis, of Roscoe, said learning from instructors who have had actual experience working in automotive maintenance facilities helps him better understand assignments.
“You see how things are done in the book one way, but our instructors will show us how they have done it for years,” he said. “That makes it easier to complete the task when they show us different ways of doing it.”
Solis chose the automotive maintenance field for a specific reason.
“I knew I would work on engines but could not decide between diesel and automotive,” he said. “I found that I like to work on the smaller engines.”
Solis said that when he completes his Associate of Applied Science degree, he plans to work in an automotive maintenance shop to enhance his skills.
“My career goal is to one day be able to open my own shop,” he said.
Ty Liedtke, an Automotive Technology instructor at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, said Solis has the drive to be successful.
“He is so far ahead of the game and is a leader in the shop,” Liedtke said. “He is going to make a phenomenal technician when he graduates.”
The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number was forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The website stated that the average annual salary for a technician in the state is $44,810.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, Chrysler Specialization and Tesla START Technician, are also available depending on campus location.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.